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Guidelines for EngSC OER Description.

Author: Phil Barker, Heriot-Watt University.

Date: November 2009
Version: 1.0

The aim of these guidelines is to help ensure that those working with the Engineering Subject
Centre (EngSC) in releasing Open Educational Resources (OERs) provide an adequate
description of the content they release. The descriptions have to be adequate to fulfil a number
of requirements from several stakeholders. The simplest is that potential users of the content
need to be able to find it and to understand what it is useful for and how they may use it. They
may be looking for resources using Google or some specialist search facility provided by the
Subject Centre or a third party1; they may or may not have knowledge of OERs or the Subject
Centre's role in releasing them. There are other less obvious sources for requirements: our
funders wish to keep track of how many resources we are releasing, as do the project team and
possibly you do as well. You and your institution will want to be credited when a resource is
Sometimes the requirement will be for textual information that another person can read and act
on2; other time the requirement will be for metadata, that is structured descriptions that can
easily be accessed programmatically, and which is normally entered in a form on whatever
platform is being used to host the resource.

Textual information to include in the resource

At the front/top/beginning of the resource, also as a running header or footer on each page
if appropriate.
Needs to convey maximum information in minimum space, e.g. subject + level formula of
"Advanced wickerwork for basket weaving"

In the resource as an abstract, if appropriate (examples where this isn't appropriate are
videos or images). Should include information on what the resource is intended to help a
student learn, how it may be used etc. as appropriate3.

On title page, at front/top/beginning of resource, and with copyright and licensing
information in credits section at end of resource.

For an examples of such facilities see
Some resource types, namely non-textual resources such as images, movies, audio recordings, are particularly
problematic for this approach. There are a number of options, which range from embedding the resource in a page
of text (such an approach is adopted by many web 2.0 sites in providing what is sometimes called a canonical web
page for a resource) or the use of embedded metadata in the resource, which requires technical intervention
beyond the scope of these recommendations. For audio or video recordings the title and other textual descriptions
can be either read or displayed at the beginning of the recording.
Pretty much every entry could have "if appropriate" appended to it. Take it as read from now on.
Guidelines for EngSC OER Description

Can be useful to include contact details.

Creation / revision date

On title page or at end of resource (with copyright information)

Source Institution
With the author's details at the front/top/beginning and/or in the credits/copyright section

Origin Course4
In the description, preferably with a URL to some public information about that course and
some descriptive link text, e.g. advanced wickerwork module in the third year of a basket
weaving course.

Source of Funding
In "credits" section, at end of resource or as footnote. The standard Eng OER resource
stamp and back page fulfil this role.

In "credits" section, at end of resource or as footnote. The standard Eng OER resource
stamp and back page fulfil this role.

Licence information
With copyright information and "credits" section at back of resource. The standard back
page fulfils this role.

Subject Keywords
The description/abstract and the content of the resource should normally contain sufficient
keywords. If not it may be worth adding them separately below the description.

Third Party rights

With copyright and licence information as credits section.

If there is a canonical version of the resource, i.e. a version which you keep up to date,
then it is useful to include the URL for that version in the resource so that people who
obtain a copy know where to find it.

Metadata to record on publishing the resource.

Make sure the title is the same as on the resource

As per description in resource

Programme Tag
Should be tagged as UKOER

Source Institution
Use a tag based on your institution's name

i.e. the course for which the resource was created or in which it was originally used.

Phil Barker, Heriot-Watt University Oct 2009page 2 of 3

Guidelines for EngSC OER Description

Use EngSCOER tag

The account to which you upload should contain your "profile", that is information about
yourself (name, who you work for).

The date of upload will probably be recorded automatically, some systems allow this to be
changed or for the date of resource creation to be recorded separately, which is worthwhile
if the resource is old.

Ideally the system will allow you to specify the creative commons licence you wish to use.

Subject Keywords
Add a selection of these as tags.

© 2009 Heriot-Watt University

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Phil Barker, Heriot-Watt University Oct 2009page 3 of 3